The Bible Journaling trend took shape within the world of scrapbookers and papercrafters, so most of the sources I have read suggested some pretty fancy art supplies for Bible Journaling. I happen to enjoy fancy art supplies a whole lot (maybe more than chocolate and jewelry!), and my current addiction has been fueled most of all by Rebekah R. Jones, who has absolutely wonderful art tutorials on many, many products. Now that my son has started Bible Journaling along with me, I found myself wondering what kid art supplies would work well. I decided there’s no way to find out without giving them a try. I picked a theme: “God’s love for us,” gathered some art supplies, and had so much fun. It’s surprisingly liberating to use simple, kid supplies. When you give up trying to create a masterpiece, sometimes it’s easier to create something good. One thing that I’ve learned from a year of Bible Journaling is that Bible pages are more accepting and forgiving than I would have imagined.
Crayola Products Overview…
What they are: Art supplies designed for kids
Why they are great for Bible Journaling: They are inexpensive and widely available. The Crayola palate is bright and cheerful.
Page prep needed: None for crayons, water color pencils, Crayola twistables, Kid paint, or acrylic paint. Gesso for markers. (Even with four coats of gesso, the Crayola water colors still bled through my page, so maybe go with a different brand of watercolor paint.)
Ideas: Many techniques that are demonstrated with fancier art supplies can be achieved with Crayola products.
Fancy art supplies that work well with Crayola products: Prima Art Basics Gesso, Staz-on Ink and clear acrylic stamps, Sigma Micron pens, especially the Graphic 1.
It occurred to me as I put worked through some of these pages that this is a pretty good introduction to a bunch of easy Bible Journaling techniques.
Test any supplies on the back pages of your Bible.
I discovered that the Crayola classic markers and the Crayola washable Supertip markers both bled badly. It really surprised me that the Crayola water colors bled so badly. I’ve used many different water colors in my Bible without any bleedthrough troubles. Of the supplies I tried for the first time, I was most pleasantly supplied with the Washable kids paint. It dries a little chalky (kind of like Artist Loft watercolors), but it doesn’t bleedthrough and it has a pleasant smell (unlike most tempera paint I’ve used).
It might be worth noting here the difference between shadowing and bleedthrough. With shadowing you can see the underlying image. With bleedthrough, the ink seeps through the page. I find that I can live with shadowing, but I do my best to avoid bleedthrough. (Everyone will find their own preference with these problems!). For example, above, the acrylic paint shadowed, but did not bleed through.
The first page I tried with my new supplies….
For this page, I first lightly penciled in the lettering. Here’s a few tips for hand lettering:
- First write out the verse, quote, or song lyrics on a piece of scrap paper.
- Circle the words to be the focus.
- Practice a few ways of writing the phrase.
- Think of drawing the letters rather than writing the letters; this makes it a little easier to get a pleasing shape to the letters.
- If you want the text to be centered, find the center of the phrase and start with the letter in the middle, working outwards on both sides.
- Write the letters lightly in pencil. Then write with micron pens.
- It’s easy to draw bubble letters if you first just write the letter and then draw an outline around it. Once you have traced the pen with microns, you can erase the inside line.
- Do pencil work (and the micron pen work if desired) before adding gesso. It’s really hard to erase pencil off a surface with gesso.
After the letters were penciled in, I applied gesso with a foam brush. I used crayola markers to color the letters. Then I painted a little rainbow with the acrylic paints. The acrylic paints were nice to use. They have a really matte finish, which works well in the Bible. (Sometimes really glossy acryilic paints can stick to the other page.) The paint dries a little rough to the touch, but I was overall happy with them.
Up next, I tried twistable pencils…
My box of twistable pencils included about five in neon colors, which work really nicely as Bible highlighters (with no worry about bleed through). The twistable pencils had vibrant color. I found I had to work a little hard to get the color on the super-smooth Bible paper and that it was hard to achieve any kind of shading or blending, but they add bright color.
Then I tried the Twistable crayons…(I was not as big of fan!) I just found that it was hard to get the color to go where I wanted it to go and that the color was not as vibrant as the pencils. The colors didn’t shade or blend well. I found myself wondering: “What’s the point?” And then I watched my daughter scribble with them. She loves them! They don’t break and are super fun for young children to use. I found they work best, coloring large areas, so I drew a little flower bouquet. I used a super-fine Micron 005 for the drawing and a Graphic 1 for the lettering.
Up next, I tried the Crayola colored pencils, which felt like coming home after using the Twistables. Colored pencils are definitely the most natural medium to use on thin, smooth Bible pages. With the Crayola pencils it was possible to achieve some shaking and color blending.
And then I opened up my box of 64 Crayola crayons. Is it weird that I really love the palette included in the box of 64 crayons and still know most of the color names by heart? I still love a new box of crayons and a coloring book, but I find crayons work so much better on paper with some texture, like newsprint, than they do on Bible pages. I couldn’t achieve shading, which is ordinarily super-easy with crayons, just solid color. Crayons work fine for highlighting text. I pictured myself making a coloring page in the margins of my Bible, which I drew with pencil and then traced with a Graphic 1 pen. Then I just had fun coloring with some of my favorite colors: carnation pink, sea green, indigo, and violet…
I had fun just playing with the Crayola classic markers. Lots of the techniques I’ve seen demonstrated with Distress Markers actually work quite well with Crayola. Of course, it’s a much different palette! (Yes, I colored my salad plate with Crayola markers. Shhh! Don’t tell my mother! I think it’s more customary to use a craft mat or ceramic tile.)
I was most excited to try stamping with Crayola markers. The bright colors are super fun with the letter stamps that I purchased from Growing Meadows Etsy Shop. (My acrylic block is black form Staz-on ink. The ink really stays on!) When stamping with markers, it is recommended that you “huff” with your breath (not blow) on the stamp just before stamping to introduce a little extra moisture to activate the ink.
I also discovered that it is super easy to create brush writing with fat Classic Crayola markers by simply use more pressure on the down stroke and less pressure on the upstroke. The only trouble for Bible Journaling is the large size of the letters this creates. (If you would like to see some awesome Crayolography inspiration check out the blog “In a Brush.” Colin Tierney does the most beautiful hand lettering with Crayola markers. He even works magic with ink injected into a chili pepper! Sadly, I’ve discovered that better art supplies won’t automatically make you a better artist.) Here’s my first attempt at brush lettering with Crayolas…(I applied two coats of gesso to this page before beginning!)
Next up, I had some fun with Crayola Kids Paint. I discovered that the paint blends well and holds a brush stroke, which creates some neat effects…(The beautiful book on the left is from an Illustrated Faith devotional kit, but the paint on the paper to right is just kids’ paint.)
It didn’t work quite as well when I tried the same thing in my Bible, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. I started out by creating some letters out of masking tape. Just a tip, it’s so much better to lift the tape off the wax paper and cut out the letters than it is to cut through the waxed paper. It’s so frustrating to get the waxed paper backing off the back of tiny letters….
Then I just painted the page. I did not bother prepping the page with gesso. I applied more paint than I meant to apply, but still had absolutely no bleedthrough. I ended up covering part of the text, but the paint is transparent enough to still be able to read the it.
I also tried just painting a stamp. The stamps are from the Growing Meadow Etsy shop and I used Staz-on ink. This time I did put gesso down first since I wanted to use the Crayola markers for my lettering….I tried just spattering a bit of paint on the page for a fun effect.
Finally, I tried Crayola waterpaints. I decided to use a new stamp set that I have from Illustrated Faith to go with the verse, “For you are of more value than many sparrows” as just one more expression of how God loves us. The verse happened to be on the back of a page where I did experience some bleedthrough on one of the first pages that I did…
To solve the problem, I simply applied a coat of clear gesso to the whole page. Then I applied two coats of white gesso to the margin area. Then I applied another coat of clear gesso to the whole page. I then proceeded to paint with water colors. It’s been a long time since I’ve used Crayola water colors. A couple things I remember from art classes at school: 1) It helps to add a little water to each of the colors and let the paint sit for more vibrant color. 2) If you add a little water to the page first, it’s possible to create a neat sunset effect.
Then I added my stamps. I’ll share just a few tips for stamping, too:
- The clear acrylic stamps work with clear acrylic blocks that are purchased separately. The advantage of using clear stamps is that it is so much easier to judge placement correctly than with wood stamps.
- I’ve been using Staz-on ink pads because I read that they don’t bleed through the paper as badly as some other ink pads. When they are brand new, however, and super juicy, they do bleed, so I’ve been just putting gesso down whenever I stamp.
- Place the clean acrylic stamps on your Bible page exactly where you would like them to go face down and then pick them up by placing an acrylic block on top of them. That way the layout is perfect. This is especially helpful if you are using a few stamps at once. I took these pictures while making my rough draft…
- Before stamping in the Bible stamp a few times on scrap paper. Sometimes the first time you put ink on a stamp it isn’t fully coated. By the second or third stamp, the stamp usually turns out better.
- Place a mat of some kind under the Bible page to get a better impression. I’ve been using the Stamper’s Secret Weaopon. (A mouse pad could be a good substitute if you have one.) It’s tough stamping in the Bible because you just get one chance. A mat of some kind helps the odds be in your favor.
- If the stamped impression does not turn out the way you like, you can always go back and fill in missed spots with a micron pen.
Here’s how the final page turned out. (Notice most of the shadowing and bleedthrough from the original page can’t be seen anymore!)…
But even with four coats of gesso the Crayola water colors bled through…(maybe these are not the best choice for Bible art; I had better luck with the Artist Loft brand from Michael’s.) Fortunately, in this case, the colors work just as well on this page…
Well, aside from the Crayola water colors, which just really seem to want to bleed through the page, most of these simple, every day products seemed to work ok.
I hope in some small way these pictures have inspired you to create and play in your Bible using whatever supplies you may have at hand. Most of all, I hope that the passages I illustrated remind you of just how loved you are by God.